Water Regulation 4 compliance

In the UK it is a legal requirement that all systems connected to drinking water must be installed using products that comply with water regulations – in particular to Regulation 4. Failing to do so is a criminal offence and installers could face prosecution.

Quality counts

The Water Supply (Water Fitting) Regulations not only protect public health, but safeguard water supplies and promote the efficient use of water within premises across the UK. According to Regulation 4 (1): “Every water fitting should be of an appropriate quality or standard and be suitable for the situation in which it is used”. Part 2 of the regulations requires installers to demonstrate compliance, for example with CE Marking where applicable, appropriate British or European standards, and also a specification approved by the regulator.

The regulations apply in all premises where water is supplied by a water company – from the point that the water enters the property (boundary) to the water being used through a plumbing system or water appliance.

Within the regulations, responsibility by way of legal duty falls to all users, owners or occupiers and anyone who is installing plumbing equipment, water fittings and appliances. Water companies are duty bound to enforce the laws and inspect new or existing installations to ensure compliance.

These regulations are not retrospective. This means that if plumbing systems, water fittings or water-using appliances don’t meet the current standards, but were fitted lawfully under the previous water supply regulations/byelaws, no changes need to be made. However, if the fittings pose a significant risk of contaminating or wasting water, then the water supplier can insist on improvements being made even if they were lawfully installed.

Independent certification

Unfortunately, it is not illegal for manufacturers to make products that don’t comply with the regulations. It is also perfectly legal for merchants to sell non-compliant products. However, these products become an offence once fitted, so it is the engineers/installers that are liable.

The duty lies with the installer to ensure that every product component that is connected to a water supply or management meets the relevant regulations. Therefore, it's in the interest of all professional manufacturers of water system components to ensure that all products are certified to meet the requirements laid out within Regulation 4 of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations.

Until fairly recently, the most common method of demonstrating compliance with Regulation 4 was WRAS approval. However, KIWA and NSF now also offer independent certification for Regulation 4 compliance.

Like WRAS, the KIWA KUKreg4 approval mark is widely accepted by water authorities and demonstrates full compliance with the UK Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999, so is equivalent to WRAS approval.

Achieving certification

KUKreg4 is a robust method for demonstrating compliance with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999, as the testing is undertaken in an ISO 17025-accredited laboratory and complies with ISO 17065 product certification. The process of approval involves rigorous testing, with the final certification decision made by people with many years of industry experience.

In order to be certified as meeting Water Regulation 4, products are tested to ensure they perform to the specification approved by the regulator, an appropriate harmonised standard, or conform to an appropriate British Standard. This is normally achieved by testing against the regulators’ specification test codes sheets or relevant BS/EN standard.

Any non-metallic materials that come into contact with drinking water within components/products must also meet the requirements of BS 6920. This includes a number of tests to assess the suitability of non-metallic materials to ensure they do not impart odour or flavour, cause a change in appearance (colour or turbidity), promote microbial growth, or leach substances (including toxic metals) harmful to human health.

A hard copy of the Water Regulations Guide can be purchased through the CIPHE website at www.ciphe.org.uk

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